Billy Millar
Full names: William Alexander
Date of birth: 6 Nov 1883
Place of birth: Bedford
School: SACS
Springbok no: 109
Debut test province: Western Province
Physical: 1.8m, 83.5kg
Date of death: 18 Mar 1949 (Age 65)

Test summary: Tests: 6 Tries: 2
First Test: 8 Dec 1906 Age:23 Forward against England at Crystal Palace, London
Last Test: 11 Jan 1913 Age:29 Forward against France at Le Bouscat, Bordeaux
Test history:
08 Dec 190623ForwardEnglandDraw: 3-31 tryCrystal Palace, LondonWP
27 Aug 191026Forward (C)BritainLose: 3-8 Crusaders (St George's Park), Port ElizabethWP
03 Sep 191026Forward (C)BritainWin: 21-5 Newlands, Cape TownWP
30 Nov 191229Forward (C)IrelandWin: 38-01 tryAviva Stadium (Lansdowne Road), DublinWP
14 Dec 191229Forward (C)WalesWin: 3-0 Millenium Stadium (Cardiff Arms Park), CardiffWP
11 Jan 191329Forward (C)FranceWin: 38-5 Le Bouscat, BordeauxWP

Billy Millar : Doc Craven

I quote from an additional foreword to Billy Millar's book.

William A. Millar was born at Bedford in the Eastern Province in 1883, and began his Rugby career rather late in life, as it was not until 1903 that he really took seriously to the great game.

He was badly wounded during the Boer War and it was only in 1903 that he began to play again, figuring in the Gardens second string, but before the end of the season he was a regular member of the first fifteen. During the following years he improved rapidly, until, in 1906, he was recognised as one of the soundest forwards in the Western Province. In consequence he was a member of the "all-star" Western Province team of 1906, which won the Currie Cup.

"Billy" played splendidly throughout the tourney, and it was with great surprise that we learnt of his omission from the Springbok team. The inability of Bertie Mosenthal to go, however, gave him his chance as first reserve - and it is hardly necessary to add that his selection was absolutely justified by the splendid form he eventually displayed.

He scored three tries, but one of these was of incalculable value, for it was the one which enabled the Springboks to draw with England.

Billy Millar's deep love for rugby and the cameraderie of the game shines out of the following description he gave of his experiences as a prisoner of war during World War I.

"When I was lying, badly wounded, in a pestilential prisoners' camp in the German lines amongst a crowd of allied soldiers, a French private, severely wounded in the arm, recognised me. He spoke English perfectly and he reminded me of the game against France in 1913.

A corporal of the Bedfords was standing near by, also rather nastily wounded in the arm. He listened interestedly to our conversation of those cleaner, happier days, and then addressed me: "Excuse me, sir, but I often saw your team play in the old days, and I remember your match against England very clearly." Interested and pleased to meet a Rugger enthusiast, especially under such dreary conditions, I nodded encouragingly as the corporal continued.

"But why I addressed you when I heard this fellow" - turning towards the poilu"talking to you is that I have rather a strange story to tell you. Before I got wounded and captured we were holding a nasty part of the line under a rather heavy bombardment.

My platoon was taking what little cover there was in a cemetery and I used a tombstone as cover, which I am firmly convinced saved my life. As I cowered behind the stone judge my amazement when I read the inscription on the stone, which had been erected to the memory of Lieut. Ronald Poulton-Palmer, of the King's Royal Rifles, I think the regiment was."

Immediately I heard these words I remember vividly again Palmer's play against us in 1913, and eagerly a French poilu, an English corporal and myself helped to while away the ghastly hours, while we waited for attendance, by a long, interesting chat on rugby.

When one thinks of those splendid fellows, who played rugby, and who also played the great game in the same grand spirit when they paid the great price, one often ponders the reason of it all. Anyhow, theirs was not to reason why. Playing for a bigger team in a greater game they gladly, and imbued with the real team spirit of Rugby in a national sense, gave their all. God rest their souls, gallant players all!